Google’s Matt Cutt’s has stated that page rank is still a strong signal when it comes to ranking on the web, but it’s not the only one. For starters, Google has stated plenty of times that there are actually hundreds of signals that they take into consideration when grading our websites for quality and worth, and new signals are added all the time. However, it’s also no secret that beating out highly authoritative domains that exhibit a high page rank is an unlikely feat, but it can be done. What many don’t realize is that, despite all the nonsense talk that SEO is a dying art, ranking today with Google is based on a points system, and so much as a handful of small problems can add up to drastic results in terms of ranking and performance.
Is Your SEO as Good as Theirs?
Think SEO is dead? Well, you better think again, as the technical functionality of your website is now more important today than it’s ever been before. Simple to fix problems like duplicate URL’s or meta description tags, a slow loading website, grammatical errors, having poor HTML markup, or not having any dedicated fan base can cost you drastically. If you want to beat out the big boys, you’ve got to play like them too, and clean all that crap up! If you want to out rank the rest, you’ve got to be the best!
Major publishers tend to have entire web development, SEO, and editorial teams that work around the clock to ensure their sites are in top running shape. Because of this, your site needs to be up to par with theirs in terms of overall functionality, user experience, and quality of content. This means testing every last link on your site, including the functionality of social buttons (which don’t work properly on more than half of all websites I’ve evaluated this past year), checking for grammatical errors, proper fluidity (does the content portrayed in your articles make sense to users, does the content somehow all tie together?), etc.
Do You Have a Fan Base?
Whether anyone knows it or not, websites that have a dedicated fan base will likely perform better in organic search results, and the aspect of having true followers sends a strong signal to search engines that your content is worthy. For instance, Google can determine the value of content based on the reactions of people within its social network, Google+. What are people saying about your content when commenting, sharing, etc? Does your content typically go viral, or do you end up with just a few re-shares, no engagement, and no one follows you or your content?
If the content you’re publishing gets shared tens of thousands of times, and people are saying positive things about it, you just gained points in terms of those hundreds of factors I mentioned earlier. Likewise, if you have thousands of followers, this is another bonus in your favor. Do you have dedicated brand pages on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter, or are you just self promoting yourself with your personal social profiles? Is the content you produce and all your social media marketing geared towards the seriously flawed method of bragging about yourself, reminding people how wonderful you are on a daily basis, or are you producing content that’s actually useful in some way to someone?
If people in general aren’t getting excited about your work, then why should search engines? Not only is having a dedicated fan base for your site important for ranking, it also helps to extend your overall reach within social media. If you have tens of thousands of followers on social networks your content can gain traction quickly, virtually anytime you publish anything, and this provides for another avenue of much needed traffic that you otherwise might not have had.
Do You Have an Edge?
Let’s face it, when you publish content to the web, you are effectively competing against the entire world. That being said, you not only need an edge somewhere over your competitors, you absolutely must have one, if not many of them, otherwise its eminent failure. Finding an edge in online publishing means finding your strong and weak points, and maybe a domain worthiness stress test is not such a bad idea. Then you will know where you need to focus your efforts in improving your content, website, or social media and search engine marketing campaigns.
For instance, I constantly evaluate the performance of this website, it’s content, technical functionality, overall user retention rates, and social media following’s in order to determine what needs to be done to make it better! Speaking in terms of technical functionality, I often use free online tools such as Google’s page speed insights to find and identify potential problems with site speed. Recently I’ve identified dozens of potential changes I could make to my sites code that would have a huge impact on my sites performance, despite the fact this site is already among some of the fastest loading in the world. Why not make it faster anyway?
After long periods of evaluation, I’ve identified my own strengths and weaknesses. Some of my strengths were that my knowledge of web design, web development, and my understanding of search engines has given me a leading edge over many competitors in terms of my site’s functionality. Again, what is your edge? Look toward your strengths and take advantage of them by putting more focus on them.
If you’re an expert on a given topic, such as medical science for example, this could give you a leading edge against your competitors online. The more knowledgeable you are about the content you produce, the stronger your influence will be, and everyone knows influence is super important when building and retaining an audience online. Content that is influential to others tends to have a domino effect in terms of producing a wider reaching audience, and it also tends to rank higher in search engines as well.
The more of an edge you can find over competitors the better. I for one have plenty of them, but I also have plenty of weak points too. No one knows everything, and we need to know when it’s time to ask for help, or hit the books and start learning more about an issue that’s causing us problems. Knowledge is truly power, and the more you can learn yourself, the more of a leading edge you can gain over others.
The better your site performs both in a practical manner for users, and the better its overall functionality, the more likely you will be to rank well today. If you want to out rank high page rank sites on the web, remember, you need that leading edge somewhere, so find it and take advantage of it. Also, keep those small technical problems under control. I recently found that this site had 16 duplicate meta description tags, and 18 short meta descriptions, ouch! I was so busy with managing social properties and editing the site that I didn’t get around to checking for these problems within Google’s Webmaster Tools application for a period of several months. Don’t let this happen to you.
I recently was told by a fellow Google Plus member that their content management system was producing multiple H1 tags per page, which obviously would also have negative consequences in terms of ranking, as this is seen as a manipulative practice by search giants. If you don’t know web design or development, then find someone who does, if not, you’re on a highway to know where! Don’t just assume that the Wordpress template you’ve implemented is all glory and no shame. If you don’t understand the technology then find someone who does ASAP, otherwise you have no way to know whether or not your sites code is flawed or if it boasts the best code ever. With Google’s current ranking system, too many misconfigurations in HTML markup alone can ruin your entire business online, so it’s worth knowing how your site functions from a technical stand point, and not just an aesthetic one.
In the end, finding that leading edge, building a dedicated audience, keeping technical problems under control, and producing content for which you are truly knowledgeable of will help you to out rank even the largest major publishers on the internet today, even if you have no page rank at all. Remember, it’s only one signal out of many, but remains an important one.
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